Lecture encourages development of local businesses

Bernice Radle of HGTV’s “American Rehab: Buffalo” visited SVSU to discuss small-scale businesses and local citizens of the Great Lakes Bay area.

The Jan. 28 lecture was sponsored by Infuse GLB, a nonprofit formed by Wayne Hoffman that focuses on the redevelopment of small-scale places.

Radle said she wanted to inspire individuals in the community to purchase abandoned buildings in their neighborhood and transform them into something that is aes thetically pleasing and economically beneficial for the community. Her lecture focused on “real estate for regular people.”

Radle grew up in extreme poverty in Niagara Falls, NY. She is now the owner of Buffalove Development and Little Wheel Restoration Co. She is also a zoning board of appeals member for the city of Buffalo and a faculty member at IncDev (Incremental Development).

“I’m just a little lady with a dollar and a dream,” she said.

Her lecture was accompanied by statistical graphs and information provided by URBAN 3, a company that analyzes developmental costs for small-scale local companies as opposed to big corporations.

Suburban-style development costs more in infrastructure than it generates in tax revenue, Radle said. She suggested that small-scale and local initiatives often perform better than their larger counterparts.

“Cities are better when built and maintained by local people,” she said. “We’ve made growth a necessity, but our approach to growth is bankrupting us.”

Radle also talked about the concept of density within a community. She gave the analogy of building a duplex and a coffee shop near each other and explained that the duplex renters will walk to the coffee shop.

This spreads wealth among local businesses rather than large corporations like Starbucks because the local coffee shop is closer and more accessible.

She recommended that individuals who are interested in potentially redeveloping a building in their area consider the costs.

The initial cost of purchasing a building should be no more than the cost of three and a half years’ worth of student loan debt, she
said. Because of cost and lack of awareness, there is a need for more small-scale developers, especially in the Great Lakes Bay area.

“How do you find more small-scale developers?” Radle asked. “You don’t. You grow them. Incremental development is a process, a product and a philosophy.”

With the desire for more small-scale developers, Bernice has created a “STEP” guide for individuals who are considering repurposing STEP buildings, which are small-scale, time-enhanced, entrepreneurial and purposeful.

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